Cavan County Museum curator, Savina Donohoe beside the board installed at the Ballyjamesduff venue to help people with difficulties communicating.

Council to explore roll-out of communication boards

The council has agreed to explore the countywide roll-out of new communication boards at local amenity sites as a way to promote a greater sense of inclusion amongst people of all abilities.

It follows the erection of one such board at Holy Family School in Cootehill. Another has been positioned in close proximity to the County Museum in Ballyjamesduff, which has been specially designed to link in with the nearby sensory garden.

The boards have been designed to help children with special needs who may have some difficulty communicating, and was installed in Ballyjamesduff in association with Cavan Autism Parents Support (CAPS).

Now Fianna Fáil’s Aiden Fitzpatrick believes the gesture should be extended, not just countywide, but nationwide.

“If they want to go to the toilet they can point to the picture,” explained Cllr Fitzpatrick at the council’s recent monthly meeting.

He told the meeting that Holy Family parents were hopeful boards could be placed at playgrounds across Cavan, and read a letter written by a student.

Fine Gael’s Trevor Smith supported the motion, welcoming the potential investment as a worthwhile endeavour and commended CAPS for the sign at the County Museum which he said had been a “great success”.

There was support too from Sinn Féin’s Paddy McDonald, Peter McVitty (FG), Craig Lovett (FF) and Brendan Fay (Ind) who suggested the communication boards could be installed at public amenity sites too. Others to support the motion were Patricia Walsh (FF), TP O’Reilly (FG) and Sean Smith (SS).

Carmel Brady (FG) said that by installing the boards at playgrounds it would allow children of all abilities to “play together”.

John Paul Feeley (FF) said that Cavan could be an “example” to other counties.

Responding, Director of Services Eoin Doyle acknowledged the interest of councillors and their support for the motion. He said the initiative by CAPS was something to “build from” and the partnership that exists would be explored further.